Archives for posts with tag: democracy versus mob-rule

We arise as human beings in the experience of observing ourselves observing.

Humberto Maturana, The origin and conservation of self-consciousness, 2005

Maturana’s essay is compelling.
Yet, like everything else done by us humans, it is not ‘complete’.
It doesn’t mention ‘memory’, nor ’empathy’.

A key difference between a psychopath and a sociopath is whether he has a conscience, the little voice inside that lets us know when we’re doing something wrong, says L. Michael Tompkins, EdD. He’s a psychologist at the Sacramento County Mental Health Treatment Center.

A psychopath doesn’t have a conscience. If he lies to you so he can steal your money, he won’t feel any moral qualms, though he may pretend to. He may observe others and then act the way they do so he’s not “found out,” Tompkins says.

A sociopath typically has a conscience, but it’s weak. He may know that taking your money is wrong, and he might feel some guilt or remorse, but that won’t stop his behavior.

Both lack empathy, the ability to stand in someone else’s shoes and understand how they feel. But a psychopath has less regard for others, says Aaron Kipnis, PhD, author of The Midas Complex. Someone with this personality type sees others as objects he can use for his own benefit.

Kara Mayer Robinson, Sociopath vs. Psychopath: What’s the Difference, WebMD

You see, both the psychopath and the sociopath are aware of their own doings. They are able to observe themselves observing. And doing whatever it is that they are doing.
They are aware of their goals.
And do what it takes to achieve them.

The problem with the psycho/sociopaths being that a quirk of their memory allows them to learn – to remember, through language, the information contained in past experiences, but denies them the ability to recollect/imagine the emotional consequences imposed by their actions upon those who happen to be affected.

That’s why the psycho/sociopaths don’t have a functional conscience.

Sometimes during their coming of age, something went wrong.

The interface which mediates some of the information traded between their brains and the rest of the world is flawed.

Our brain consists of three main sections. The reptilian, the limbic and the neocortex.
The reptilian part deals with the ‘mechanical’ aspects of our lives – breathing, heart rate, etc, the limbic deals with our emotional lives – and is the first which can store easily accessible ‘memories’, while the neocortex is the part where most of our ‘reasoning’ takes part.
Of course that these three parts are interconnected. That’s how we can influence our breathing and why we – well, most of us, are able to control our sexual urges.

My point being that self-awareness is not enough.
Both psycho and sociopaths are able to calibrate their actions in order to achieve their goals. Which is the functional definition of being aware of yourself.
By not being able to fully grasp the emotional consequences imposed by their actions upon those who are affected by them, the psycho/sociopaths can develop only a more ‘focused’ understanding of the world than the rest of us.
Which can sometimes be a lot deeper than usual. Some of the psycho-sociopaths have been notoriously proficient manipulators…

But no matter how deep that understanding may have been, its lack of breadth has proven fatal. Historically and statistically speaking, of course.

This being the reason for which having a functioning conscience is an evolutionary advantage for individuals.
And, maybe even more important, for the communities composed of those individuals.

Societies which have successfully identified and kept in check those who behaved improperly fared way better than those which had allowed the ‘bulls’ to take control over the ‘china shop’.

And what better example is there than the fact that democratic societies constitute a better medium for their members to live in than the authoritarian ones?

As long as democracy isn’t replaced by mob-rule, of course…

The Rorschach test consists of a trained specialist encouraging a subject to share his interpretations on 10 “ambiguous images“.
At the end of the discussion the trained specialist more or less ‘determines the fate’ of the subject, by filing his interpretation of the subject’s reactions.

The democratic process consists of everybody freely expressing their concerns about things.
Periodically some people are invested with enough power to solve the problems encountered by the community, in a manner consistent with the values agreed upon by that community. At the end of each such period the activity of these people is analyzed (interpreted ?!?) by those at the ‘receiving end’ of the political mechanism, with the intended goal of improving the ‘political process’.
The fate of the entire community being under a double determination. The diligence of the politicians invested to run the show and the diligence of the people when evaluating the results of the political process.

As you can see with a naked eye, there are a few striking similarities between  Democracy and the Rorschach test. Both depend heavily on the participants being honest and straightforward.

If the patient ‘doesn’t trust his doctor’ or ‘doesn’t feel like talking’ the ‘trained person’ will undoubtedly have problems in reaching a ‘fair conclusion’. Both will have to ‘suffer some consequences’.
If the ‘doctor’ has ‘ulterior motives’ and ‘unfairly labels’ his patient, it will be the patient to suffer the initial consequences but, eventually, those consequences will ‘bounce back’ to their source.

Same things happen in any society.
The difference between a democratic and an authoritarian one being that in a democratic environment ‘consequences’ become apparent, and are dealt with, a lot easier than in an authoritarian one.
This being the reason for which true, functional, democracies work better than any form of authoritarianism.

As long as both parties involved ‘interpret’ their roles appropriately, of course.

‘Democracy’ comes from ‘demos’, the Greek word for ‘people’.
Basically a democratic society is  a social arrangement where the people is in charge. Through representatives, as in most cases, or even directly – the Swiss organize referendums whenever they have something really important to decide.

‘Republic’ comes from Latin. ‘Res publica’ means ‘public matters (=issues)’ so a republic can be seen as a social arrangement where everything is out in the open.

Would it make any sense for the public to know everything that is going on if they don’t have any say in the matter? Could democracy work if people are kept in the dark?

So.
In communism the state (in fact the rulers) decide everything – who does what and who gets what.
In socialism there is not much difference from the previous state. (I can vouch for both propositions, I’ve lived under both regimes)
‘Anarchy’ means no rules. If you happen to have two cows you need to defend them constantly, by your own, against anyone who covets them. Remember, anarchy means ‘no rules’ whatsoever. You cannot cherry-pick. I like this rule (property rights are fundamental for me) so this one stays in place while the the rules that I don’t like will be discarded.
As in ‘I won’t respect but the rules I like and I’ll hold everybody else to respect mine’.
That would be an absolutely one sided anarchy. If you’d be able to enforce such an arrangement it would be perceived by everybody else as the most authoritarian regime ever and Stalin would be jealous of your accomplishments.
As I said before ‘democracy’ means people having their say about how things are settled in a that particular society. If people respect each-other you have real democracy. If people band together to decide, against the will of the owner, about the fate of those fabled two cows we can no longer speak about true democracy. That would be ‘mob rule’, just another form of ‘anarchy/authoritarianism’. One ‘organized’ by a ruler who is a callous spin doctor skilled enough in his trade to make a considerable portion of the population follow him, usually against their better interests.

I was just speaking about the mutual respect that exists among the members of a truly democratic society…. I have a distinct feeling that those who promote this meme think of themselves as being ‘the true democrats’… I’m not a religious person myself, not in the classic sense of the word anyway. But I won’t ever think of a religious person as being ‘ignorant’ based solely on his creed and I’ll never refer to him using such a word, regardless of his level of education. One of the reasons being that if I ‘indulge’ in such a barbarism he’ll never listen to me again.
Why should he? To get some more abuse from me?

Now lets get this straight.
Mutual respect is absolutely essential for democracy.
There can be no such thing as mutual respect among individuals whose goals are mutually exclusive.
This meme actually doesn’t make much sense. No matter how well armed the lamb is, a determined wolf would eventually sink its fangs in the lamb’s sweet flesh so a rational lamb would do his best to shoot the wolf at the first opportunity. What kind of democracy are we speaking about here?

Most governments don’t get this. You can stretch it only that far. At some point, no matter how authoritarian the regime, people will take to the street.
This doesn’t mean that democracy will automatically be installed after a public uprising, far from it. The Arab Spring is only the latest example.
It only means that people have it in themselves to try to improve their lot. If they find a way to do this together then the sky’s the limit.
And this is a fact. Only the democratic America successfully landed a man on the Moon. The Soviet Union was the first to start this game but wasn’t able to keep up.

Yeah? And what are bragging about here?
About not finding a candidate to suit your wishes AND not doing anything about this situation?
How about running yourself? Or at least going there and annulling your ballot…
If you do not vote at all the political establishment will consider that you are either content with what is going on or so despondent as to not care anymore. So why should they even consider your plight? In which direction should they change their behavior in order to suit your needs if you don’t express them when you have the chance?

Really? Is he indeed unable to make distinction between democracy and mob rule?
‘Democracy in and of itself is not necessarily a good thing’…
I’m afraid he didn’t get the gist of it!
Real (=functional, stable over long periods of time) democracy IS good while mob rule IS bad. Period.

So, any chance for this cute fellow to have nailed it?

Close but there is space for improvement so I’ll try to rephrase this.
A democratic system invariable becomes weak/unstable if the general public becomes complacent and the power is grabbed by short-sighted but arrogant and callous spin doctors who, by eviscerating the true nature of democracy, transform the concept into an empty shell. This way the democratic process becomes a beauty pageant and an erstwhile democracy becomes a subtle dictatorship.

The strangest part of all this is that exactly those who should have known better – the professional politicians and some members of the academia – are the first to fall into the trap.

 

“Public shaming as a blood sport” is the difference between keeping the public up to date with what is going on in the public square and transforming the same public square into a stand up comedy venue.
When this happens the public becomes hypnotized by the antics presented there and forgets to choose himself which are the really important issues and what to be done about them.
The public becomes easy prey for callous political operators (they don’t deserve to be named ‘politicians’ since they don’t give a damn about the ‘polis’) and democracy becomes mob-rule.
That’s what happened before the fall of (Ancient) Rome.

If you want to watch her speaking you can also click here to open the original TED page about her:
http://www.ted.com/talks/monica_lewinsky_the_price_of_shame#t-86823

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